Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Baked Orzo with Vegetables


Lately, I've been trying to find good vegetarian recipes to make.  Don't get me wrong, I love my chicken, fish, and the occasional piece of beef, but on those occasions where I have to cook for vegetarians, I'd prefer not to have to go and find fake meat in order to make dinner.  So, enter recipes that include pasta, whole grains, and lots of yummy vegetables.  I've got a whole boardful of them on Pinterest just waiting to be made.  But, since there was sale on eggplant, I decided to start with the Baked Orzo with Vegetables.

This recipe is not necessarily the quickest to make, since you have to chop all the veggies and also salt the eggplant, then let it sit for half an hour.  But, I promise that all the work is worth it.  I did make a few changes to the recipe.  For one thing, I had a zucchini sitting in my fridge, so I added that in.  I also left out the celery because I didn't think that it would match with the rest of the flavors in the dish. 

 Then, I cut down on the salt, used water instead of vegetable stock, and used dried oregano since that's what I had.  Finally, instead of mozzarella, I sliced up a couple of Babybel cheeses and put them on top.  As far as I can tell, making these changes didn't diminish the flavor in this dish one bit.

I have to say that this dish impressed me.  Not only is it beautiful to look at, but it's a true pleasure to eat.  The Babybel cheeses were perfect - so wonderfully melty.  And I love that it's healthy.  To up the health factor, next time, I'd probably use whole wheat orzo and add in some spinach and mushrooms too.  You could probably even use some broccoli or cauliflower to mix things up a little.  You can never have too many veggies, at least in my opinion.  With a dish like this, I promise you won't miss your meat.    

Baked Orzo with Vegetables (adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted it from Yotam Ottolenghi)

1 large eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch dice
Salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
5 oz. baby carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces orzo, a rice-shaped pasta, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
zest from 1 lemon
2 oz. Babybel cheese, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, diced

Sprinkle your eggplant generously with salt and let it drain in a colander for 30 minutes. I used this time to get the rest of my ingredients ready. After 30 minutes, rinse it well and pat it dry on towels.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil and saute the eggplant and zucchini.  When done, remove from pan and set aside.  Add carrots to remaining oil and cook for 3 minutes before adding onion and garlic. Cook together for 5 more minutes on medium heat. Stir in the orzo and cook for two minutes more. Off the heat, add the oregano, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon table salt, many grinds of black pepper and the water and mix well.

Transfer mixture to an 8×11-inch (about 2 quarts) ovenproof baking dish.  Slice the Babybel cheeses and stick the pieces into the pasta-veggie mixture as desired.  Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes, then bake 20 minutes without the foil. (You can increase the ration of foil-on to foil-off time if you don’t like a crunchy pasta lid.) Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

1.    The original recipe calls for you to fry the eggplant.  I just used 2 Tbsp. olive oil and sauteed the eggplant.

2.     The original recipe called for 1 tsp. tomato paste, celery, 1/2 c. parmesan cheese, vegetable stock, and fresh oregano.  I left out the tomato paste, celery, and parmesan cheese, used water instead of the vegetable stock, and used dried oregano instead of fresh.


  1. My sister and I were just talking about this dish! I made it a little while back and we were talking about how we needed to have it again because it was so good! :) Your version looks fabulous!


  2. I haven't tried this one, but it looks fantastic!

  3. This looks terrific Lisa. I cannot wait to try this recipe!

  4. My spouse and i had been simply speaking about this particular recipe! We managed to get not long ago so we had been discussing how we required to own it once more because it was so excellent! :) Your own version looks wonderful!
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  5. For a brief minute I was wondering if I'd stopped by the right blog when I saw this savory recipe ;)
    It looks great, I love the veggies u used here!

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